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Sociol Health Illn. 2006 Sep;28(6):785-801.

The power of ethics: a case study from Sweden on the social life of moral concerns in policy processes.

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Department of Health Services Research, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


In this paper I report on an ethnographic study of an ethics policy developed by a start-up genomics company at the time it gained all commercial rights to a population-based biobank in the town of UmeƄ in northern Sweden. Tracing the interdependencies between power and morality, my research compares moral reflections and stances among 1) policymakers, 2) health professionals and 3) donors, in relation to the issues identified in the policy. These people seem to agree that trust and fairness are important issues and that 'something' needs protection in the face of commercial genetic research. However, their perceptions of trust, fairness and what it is that needs protection differ significantly. I conclude by considering the implications of variances in moral perspectives for the social study of ethics.

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